Posts Tagged ‘Spider-Man’

byrneWith his latest Animated Adventures trailer for Firefly sparking flames of rekindled love for the short-lived Joss Whedon sci-fi western, artist Stephen Byrne has gotten a bit of a pop culture visibility boost with a multitude of websites praising his work while demanding his trailer become a reality. He takes it well, though, celebrating the outpouring of love with his own earnest gratitude and humility. A man of many fandoms (aren’t we all), Byrne infuses heavy doses of joy and energy into his work, bringing smiles even to the grimdark worlds of some more notable characters we’ve seen grace the big and small screens. I reached out to Byrne recently and he was kind enough to answer some questions about his work, fandom, and the “infamous” kiss.

 

Maniacal Geek (MG):  For those out there who may not be familiar with your work (i.e. those living under rocks and in caves), could you explain a little bit of your background as an artist and animator?

Stephen Byrne (SB): Sure, I studied animation in Ireland at the Irish School of Animation. I’m from Dublin originally. I studied there for 5 years and then did some work in the animation industry, before falling into games and now moving more into the comics industry.

 

MG: What was the first fandom that inspired you to make fan art? Was it the world itself that inspired you? The characters? Both?

SB: Power Rangers!! I was drawing Power Rangers comics at age 8. I think my tiny brain wanted to draw things and tell stories but didn’t really have the capacity to come up with anything new at the time, so I would draw out Power Ranger comics, which I was obsessed with at the time. I made like 60 of them! Still have them somewhere…

 

MG: The Animated Adventures of Firefly has gotten a huge response from fans, media outlets, the original cast, etc. What has surprised you the most about this outpouring of love for the trailer?

SB: Maybe Nathan Fillion retweeting? Although I was hoping for that because I know he’s pretty active on social media. Actually more the fact that he sent me a tweet that indicated that he found the whole thing quite meaningful. I look at it as a bit of fun, but the amount of comments and messages I got from people having intensely emotional responses to it was surprising, but that’s down to what Joss Whedon did, not what I did.

MG: You’ve done a few Animated Adventures trailers (and a tease for Harry Potter), but what’s the most difficult aspect of distilling such expansive worlds into videos that last less than a minute? What do you try to focus on?

SB: Uhhhhh it’s kinda all over the shop. I usually have a basic outline of what I want to do overall. I want to put in a few time-consuming shots that will be challenging to do. But then it becomes more like ‘what can I do quickly that will look shiny?’. Because I work full-time, the whole thing is pulled off in evenings and weekends over a long period of time, so it’s easier to do a spaceship with some zoom lines flying past than it is to do River doing acrobatic insanity.

 

MG: Gushy statement: I love the way you use lighting and bold colors in your work! So much is captured in a page or a headshot with the moods and tones you create. Actual question: Do you like to challenge yourself with technique? Was there ever a project that pushed you to change how you approach your art? Or have your style and methods been pretty solid and steady?star-wars-episode-7-5

SB: Thanks! Funnily enough, color used to be a trainwreck with me. I was like ‘grass is green, sky is blue’ and it all looked very garish. I was determined to figure it out but it developed over many years and is now probably the thing I get noticed most for. As for challenging myself with technique – always. Every thing I do is an attempt to improve on the last thing I did, in some small way. I’m always looking for improved approaches.

 

MG: Your fan art comics for Spider-Man, Star Wars, and the DC Trinity have caught a lot of attention as well, the Trinity comic especially for the “surprise” ending. Do you go in with the intention of subverting expectations or do these stories write themselves as you go along?

SB: The ending to Trinity changed halfway through. And it wasn’t even my idea. A friend in work said it would be funny if Batman was actually jealous of Wonder Woman. I was like ‘yep that’s way better’ and rejigged the story from that point, so it became a little longer, but better.

Star Wars Episode 7.5 was all built around the Jar-Jar reveal. That’s the whole reason I did it. I was thinking it would be fun to do something Star Wars-y. I had really enjoyed the new movie. And I was envisioning the story in my mind and I got to the moment when Kylo Ren turns around and I was like ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if it was some else?’. That was the moment I actually decided to go ahead and draw the thing. I have lots of ideas flying through my brain at any given time, but only a limited amount of hours to do them, so yeah, I do pick things that I think will get a reaction.

 

MG: And because I’m morbidly curious, what was the overall response to the SuperBat kiss? Did you experience backlash from the dark side of fandom? How does that aspect of fandom push you creatively?batman-superman-kiss

SB: Naw it wasn’t too bad. There were some commenters that were like ‘WTF? GAY.’ Very astute people. There were only a couple of vitriolic hateful comments, which I will delete or block or whatever. But I enjoy negative responses generally, because they are either rooted in some sort of fan outrage, which means they care about what I’ve done, or they are constructive criticism (less often) which means you can learn from them.

 

MG: You seem to live and breathe superhero and sci-fi genres with a good portion of your work, but is there a genre you haven’t really tackled that you’d like to?

SB: I’m a superhero comic nerd. That’s my jam. I could see myself doing an indie ‘real world’ comic but I think you can say more about the world and speak more honestly through a genre filter. I may get tired of it but it hasn’t let up in the last 20 years.

 

MG: Your first of two Green Arrow issues came out last week, so congratulations! What challenges and triumphs do you find working on mainstream books vs indie or creator owned projects? Any other DC characters you’ve always wanted to tackle?

SB: Challenges and triumphs: With mainstream books the schedule is tighter and the money is… Existent. Which is great. Lots of DC characters I would love to draw yes. Watch this space 🙂

 

MG: You’re also working on a creator-owned sci-fi book with Dan Slott. Any information you can give about it or is it still a bit hush-hush?byrneslott

SB: Nope I can’t say anything about that at all! Sorry! Except that it is gonna be AWESOME.

 

I’d just like to say thank you, again, to Stephen Byrne for being gracious with his time despite his busy schedule.

Links to Stephen Byrne:

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Intro and Outro music, “Left Hand Free” by alt-J

If you’re a fan of comic books, Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds, or even – gasp – a fan of all three at the same time, then you’re probably aware that the Deadpool movie, long in production limbo and only recently started filming, will receive an R rating. This is good news and as is befitting of the Merc with the Mouth, the team bringing him to the big screen (for realz this time!) announced the rating victory in the only way that made sense.deadpool footage

Some of you might be wondering why it’s so important that Deadpool has an R rating. Even Mario Lopez points out in the video why having a PG-13 rating would benefit the movie; franchise, sequels, toys, etc. But what it really boils down to is authenticity. Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, isn’t a PG-13 character, he’s an R character. His world is full of graphic violence, ambiguous ethics, and some pretty choice language. Yes, he’s funny, irreverent, and breaks the fourth wall, but a lot of that is used as a stark contrast to the awful things he says and does. Emphasizing one aspect over the other kind of misses the point.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a little background, yes? Yes.

Deadpool has been kicking around Hollywood since about 2004 when New Line Cinemas tried to produce a film with writer/director David S. Goyer, who you may remember from such films as The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, and Blade, helming the project and Ryan Reynolds starring as the titular character. This was around the same time as Blade: Trinity (2004), which Goyer wrote, produced, and directed and Reynolds starred in alongside Wesley Snipes and Jessica Biel. Goyer apparently lost interest, but 20th Century Fox picked up the film rights and put a spinoff into production as a potential followup to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) where Reynolds was cast as Wade Wilson/Deadpool.

Sort of.

that-deadpool-movie-we-were-all-excited-about-will-be-pg-13While X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a box office success, it was a critical failure and didn’t sit right with many fans of the X-Men universe, the comics or the film series. Regardless of its prequel status and the inflated cast of mutant cameos, one of the more egregious errors was the treatment of Deadpool to the point where most fans don’t even consider the character on screen to be the same as the one they found in the pages of Marvel comics. To be fair, none of the X-Men movies have stuck to the comic book canon completely, but Origins seemed to be checking off a list of names to use without any thought put into motivations, personality, or anything else that would make a character compelling. Reynolds does, however, have one of the best scenes in the film and his sarcastic, snarky attitude resonated with fans of Deadpool. The movie may not have gotten it right, but Reynolds did.

Since then it’s been an ongoing battle to get Deadpool his own movie with Reynolds being the character’s biggest champion and cheerleader. So it was to everyone’s delight when the film was given the official green light in 2014, not long after the test footage for the film was leaked, with a scheduled release date of February 12, 2016. The timing of the film’s production and release within the context of the current landscape of superhero and comic book franchises, however, is what makes Deadpool‘s rating so important.9df2a3cce7aae4167e8461ac7ab22c9d

Deadpool‘s status as a viable property emerged during the first wave of successful Marvel films of the late 90s and early 2000s. Basically, it was post Blade (1998), X-Men (2000), and Spider-Man (2002) but somewhat preceded the concept of a shared cinematic universe propelled by Iron Man (2006) on down to The Avengers (2012). Yes, the X-Men films had an internal continuity (sort of) but aside from being based on Marvel characters, the film rights under 20th Century Fox left any possibility of a crossover with Marvel Studios off the table. In the wake of Marvel’s billion-dollar franchise of films, pretty much every studio has tried or is attempting to copy their model. One of the more consistent elements of the Marvel films, and most superhero films in general, has been a PG-13 rating.

ryan reynoldsThe PG-13 rating is a studio’s dream for franchise films. It allows for the broadest range of audience demographics while still maintaining a level of action, violence, salty language, and sexual innuendo that we’ve collectively accepted as appropriate for children to see with their parents and teens to see on their own. Adults, obviously, are always welcome. From a marketing standpoint, kids and teens are the target audience because, as we all know, studios are looking to make bank on merchandise. One need only look at the plethora of Marvel Cinematic Universe toys and the children gravitating towards them to understand why Marvel Studios hasn’t let any of their films break the PG-13 barrier. Not that it’s handicapped the movies at all, but then again we’re not dealing with characters who occupy an R-rated world.

Comic books published by the big two of Marvel and DC currently maintain an unofficial PG-13 rating, though your mileage may vary on whether or not that’s true depending on the subject matter. Either way, both companies have imprints, MAX and Vertigo respectively, meant to handle mature content for readers and the MAX books regularly featured characters like Wolverine, the Punisher, and Deadpool in stories that went beyond acceptable levels of violence, language, and bloody satisfaction. But these are also the stories many fans of the characters latched on to before Hollywood got a hold of them. Wolverine and the Punisher were products of a lax Comics Code and the ultra-violence of the 80s and early 90s and Deadpool was an inspired copy of DC’s Deathstroke. These are not characters who regularly cuddle bunnies and sing show tunes. Well, Deadpool would, but he’d probably be murdering a guy to death while doing it. The point is when adapting characters like Wolverine and the Punisher to the big screen, there’s a reason why Fox continues to produce the exploits of deadool_vs_deathstroke_by_luizhd-d7546h6PG-13 Logan, in X-Men or solo films, while Frank Castle’s two rated R theatrical releases have become cult classics.

Given everything that’s occurred since the initial interest in Deadpool, one would think Reynolds, director Tim Miller, the writers, and producers would attempt to go the safest and seemingly most profitable route. But I think it goes back to what I mentioned earlier. This is about authenticity, bringing the real Deadpool to the big screen. There might be some thoughts of sequels or a franchise, but I guarantee that what’s really at the forefront of the filmmakers’ minds is making the best damn Deadpool movie they can, which means getting a hard R rating so they can at least say they made their Deadpool.

And really, a rated R movie for a Marvel character isn’t a huge stretch at this moment in time. Marvel Studios is about to release their Daredevil series on Netflix, which has no standardized ratings to speak of, and from all accounts it sounds like the series could be Marvel’s grittiest venture to date. Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist are slated to follow but no one’s talking “franchise” just yet. This is as much Marvel experimenting with how far they can go deadpool-ryan-reynolds-450x244with their “street level” heroes as it is building their live action universe. Yes, Deadpool is owned by Fox, but he’s also part of a growing trend of studios exploring comic book properties beyond broad spectrum demographics. Dark Horse’s Powers has already premiered on Play Station, Valiant has started the process of developing a shared cinematic universe with their properties, and Image Comics darlings Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction will be developing several of their works from the publisher for television. There may be blockbuster superhero films, but niche audiences are also proving to be just as lucrative.

And I’m sure Deadpool would appreciate that.

 

Sam talks with Kyle Higgins, co-writer of C.O.W.L. for Image Comics. The two talk cartoon nostalgia, history and superheroes, and the artistry of comics.

 

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Intro music “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl

Outro music “Chicago” by Joe Clark feat. Raya Yarbrough

 

Sam talks with Ben Blacker, co-creator and writer for the Thrilling Adventure Hour! They chat about the writing process, the stage show turned podcast turned successful kickstarter, and television as a medium.

Ben Blacker

Follow @BenBlacker and @ThrillingAdv
Check out thrillingadventurehour.com

Intro and outro music “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl

I don’t know if anyone noticed but there were a lot of big deal pieces of news that dropped recently from Marvel, DC Comics, and Comedy Central. While I definitely plan on elaborating on most of these topics with more in-depth pieces, I thought you all might enjoy my thoughts on a few key subjects.

 

Spider-Man Joins the MCU!!

Great day in the morning, people! Spider-Man is finally gonna get the Marvel Studios treatment as it was announced that Sony, who owns the film rights to the webslinger, and Marvel reached a deal that will put Spider-Man into the billion-dollar empire that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly the clean break fans of Spidey were hoping for since Sony will still distribute any films involving the world of Spider-Man, but at the very least we know that producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal will have significantly more creative control over the character.

Spider-Man MCU

With the addition of Spider-Man to the MCU roster, Marvel has already begun the search for a new Peter Parker. Rumor has it that actors Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fury) and Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf, Maze Runner) are being considered for the role of Peter since Marvel wants to start fresh. So far, the plan seems to be introducing Peter into an upcoming movie in the MCU, most likely Captain America: Civil War, with a solo film to follow scheduled for release in 2017. While I can understand wanting to draw a clear separation between the MCU’s version of Peter versus how Sony has depicted him, it’s a bit of a shame that Andrew Garfield won’t be continuing the role. He and Emma Stone were the best parts of the Amazing Spider-Man movies.Spider-Man-Joins-Marvel-Cinematic-Universe

The announcement has produced plenty of excitement but also concern on the part of fans – not just of Spidey, but the MCU in general. With the addition of Spider-Man’s solo film, Marvel has pushed back the release dates for the Black Panther and Captain Marvel solo films that were originally due out in 2017 but are now coming out in 2018. It’s not a drastic change, but it does send a message. We’ve seen Peter Parker in five movies, so it’s not like audiences won’t know the character. What we haven’t seen, at all, is Black Panther or Captain Marvel on the big screen. Maybe it was part of the deal with Sony that Marvel had to put out a Spider-Man movie by a certain point, but it’s a bit disappointing that Spidey seems to come before other characters when Marvel has been doing just fine without him in the MCU so far.

There’s also the issue of Peter Parker being Spider-Man. It’s not surprising that when the deal between Sony and Marvel was announced that Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of the Ultimate Universe, almost immediately became a trending topic on Twitter. One of the long-standing problems with the MCU has been diversity and adding Peter to the list of Marvel movies led by a yet another straight white guy has its drawback in terms of inclusion. Of course, with Marvel actually having a hand in shaping Peter hopefully it won’t be too long before Spider-Verse becomes a cinematic reality. If we could somehow get Miles or Spider-Gwen out of this, then I’ll be a happy camper.

 

All-Female Avengers!a-force-female-avengers.0

With Secret Wars promising to alter the comic book universe of Marvel by smushing the various realities together to make a cohesive Marvel Universe, one of the bigger sub-announcements of the event is the book A-Force. Starting this summer, co-writers G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett and artist Jorge Molina will bring all of the MU heroines together, along with a new hero named Singularity, to show exactly what happens when the women of Marvel get together to kick some ass!

Announced on The View because ABC and Marvel are both owned by Disney and anything involving female superheroes must have an outlet via a show with an all-female panel of hosts, G. Willow Wilson had this to say about the book:

We’ve purposefully assembled a team composed of very different characters — from disparate parts of the Marvel U, with very different power sets, identities and ideologies. They’ll all have to come together to answer some big questions: What would you sacrifice to succeed? What is being a hero worth? [Source: Mashable]

 

singularityThough the cover features just about every heroine of Marvel, the core group of A-Force, according to Wilson, will consist of She-Hulk, Dazzler, Singularity, Nico Minoru, and Medusa with appearances from Captain Marvel, Storm, Spider-Gwen, and Wasp all but inevitable. While this isn’t Marvel’s first book with an all women cast, it’s certainly the most anticipated. What has me so excited, based on the cover alone, is the presence of Jubilee and Rogue in their “classic” X-Men cartoon outfits. Hopefully this will be the return of mutant Jubilee because I’ve never been a fan of no powers, vampire Jubilee. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about…it’s a long story.

 

DC Announces Post-Convergence Lineup!

In an effort to focus on diversity (to some degree) and once again bring in new readers, DC Comics has announced the 24 new titles coming out in June after the Convergence summer event. Though Convergence is essentially a mini-crisis event that focuses on all eras of the DC Universe pre-New 52, the aftermath will see the company dropping the New 52 moniker in order to publish books less dependent on continuity in favor of emphasizing titles that are more “inclusive”, “accessible”, and “contemporary”. Said co-publisher Dan DiDio:

In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry. [Source: Newsarama]

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One could argue that DC hasn’t been all that focused on either continuity or storytelling, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one if only because it seems like they’re actually trying to make an effort. I still wish that de-emphasizing the New 52 meant abandoning that continuity entirely, but alas it shall remain. A girl can dream, right? Anyway, here’s the list of new titles and creative teams ready to grace our pull lists in June! I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the ones I’m interested in!

New Titles:

Batman Beyond
Written by Dan Jurgens, art by Bernard Chang

Black Canary
Written by Brenden Fletcher, art by Annie Wu and Irene Koh

Constantine: The Hellblazer
Written by Ming Doyle, art by Riley Rossmo

Cyborg
Written by David Walker, art by Ivan Reis

Dark Universe
Written by James Tynion IV, art by Ming Doyle

Green Lantern: Lost Army
Written by Cullen Bunn, art by Jesus Saiz & Javi Pina

Doomed
Written by Scott Lobdell, art by Javier Fernandez

Earth 2: Society
Written by Daniel Wilson, art by Jorge Jimenez

Dr. Fate
Written by Paul Levitz, art by Sonny Liew

Justice League of America
Written and drawn by Bryan Hitch

Justice League 3001
Written by Keith Giffen, art by Howard Porter

Martian Manhunter
Written by Rob Williams, art by Ben Oliver

Midnighter
Written by Steve Orlando, art by ACO

Mystic U
Written by Alisa Kwitney, artist to be revealed

Omega Men
Written by Tom King, art by Alec Morgan

Prez
Written by Mark Russell, art by Ben Caldwell

Red Hood/Arsenal
Written by Scott Lobdell, art by Denis Medri

Robin, Son of Batman
Written and drawn by Patrick Gleason

Starfire
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, art by Emanuela Lupacchino

We Are Robin
Written by Lee Bermejo, art by Khary Randolph

In addition, there will also be four six-issue mini-series

Bat-Mite
Written by Dan Jurgens, art by Corin Howell,

Bizarro
Written by Heath Corson, art by Gustavo Duarte

Harley Quinn/Power Girl
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, art by Stephane Roux

Section Eight
Written by Garth Ennis, art by John McCrea

[Source: Nerdist]

What titles are you excited for?

 

And finally…

Jon Stewart to Leave The Daily Show Later This Year

Yeah, I’m definitely going to cover this more in-depth, but suffice it to say that The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart in particular, have meant the world to me since I was in college. Some of the most profound, hilarious, and poignant moments have come from The Daily Show and I will always have Jon to thank for that. Sixteen years is a good run, Jon, and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

And now, your Moment of Zen

Sam talks with Kyle Stevens, aka Kirby Krackle, about the rise of nerd rock and his latest album.